|Photo Credit: Montana, Georgia Littig, University of Montana Dance Student|
Dance faculty member Kristin O’Neal has been involved with National Water Dance in many capacities since it began as Florida Waterways Dance Project in 2011, and is currently their outreach coordinator. National Water Dance is an artist-driven collective of dancers, students, educators, who bring attention to environmental issues, specifically water, through dance.
The organization’s members create simultaneous performances across the United States, including Puerto Rico. This biannual event works as a movement choir, creating solidarity across the nation to bring awareness toward the water and climate crisis. Dancers learn a shared opening and closing movement phrase that connects them nationally. Each water site creates its body of movement inspired by that specific water site.
The Emory Dance Company participated in National Water Dance 2020 online via Zoom due to COVID-19. Lori Teague led the Emory contingent, teaching them both the shared movement choir phrases and creating the body of the improvisational work with the dancers. The next National Water Dance performance is Saturday, April 23, 2022, at 4 pm EDT. No matter where you are in the country, you may participate!
National Water Dance also creates site-specific performances that educate audiences, and, within the choreographic process, educate the dancers. This is accomplished through field trips and integrated curricula. Each location has its own particular water issues that becomes the focus for that area. These performances are live-streamed to reach a larger audience. Building community by uniting arts and environmental organizations on the local level, the state level, and the national level is at the heart of National Water Dance. Their hope is that dance can bypass politics and serve as a bridge to awareness and action by uniting people through the common need for clean water.
This past year, the organization created their Black Nature Conversations in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The monthly conversations are between black dance artists who create their work within the environment or whose work is inspired by nature. This month on Friday, April 16th at 3 pm EST, they will converse with Atlanta dance artists PhaeMonae and Okwae A. Miller via Instagram (@nationalwater_dance). The following month, Okwae will interview Stafford C. Berry Jr., a professor and director of the African American Dance Company at Indiana University Bloomington. They are also especially interested in highlighting black dance artists working in the environment and are in the beginning stages of creating a Youth Climate contingent to join their Ambassador Board. O’ Neal stated, “We need to hear from the Greta Thunbergs in the USA!”
Those who are seeking further information may contact Kristin O’Neal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the National Water Dance website to connect with Dale Andree, the organization director.
|Photo Credit: Montana, Zenia Monteagudo, University of Montana Dance Students|
|Photo Credit: Maine, photographer unknown, Kinetic Energy|